5 MUST-HAVE FEATURES IN YOUR DISTRIBUTION ERP SOFTWARE

Distribution centers across the United States simultaneously manage numerous moving parts, both literally and figuratively. Moreso, success greatly depends upon their ability to streamline these moving parts, which is why having the right software is vital.

An industry-specific ERP will coordinate and connect all of the distinct parts of your organization, from supply chain to inventory management and sales. However not all ERP systems are created equal. When looking at an extensive feature lists from prospective vendors, it’s challenging to determine what features are must-have and what features are nice-to-have. That’s why we’ve created this handy checklist, to help you prioritize the functionality of your ERP software.

 

Know What to Look for in an Industry Specific ERP

Ultimately, your main goal as a distribution center is to get products to consumers in the most efficient way possible, right? Well, when searching for the right ERP solution, you need to first eliminate any and all generic ERP solutions as these will not be of value; while it will help with some processes and organization, it will not support your entire supply chain and inventory management processes. You will need to shop for an industry-specific solution and a vendor with experience in your industry.

Additionally, it’s equally important to determine if you need an on-premise or cloud-based solution. While on-premise solutions require larger upfront costs and lack the security benefits of a cloud-based solutions, they give you more control over the unique customizations that you may require. Nevertheless, cloud-based solutions have added built-in features such as mobile access for remote work. There are pros and cons to both types, so be sure to discuss your needs with your vendor.

When shopping for your industry-specific distribution ERP software, your main determining factor should be whether or not the software has the features you need. Similarly, you’ll want a scalable system that changes with your business requirements. For example, if you decide to branch out into direct-to-consumer fulfillment, an ecommerce storefront and a stout, secure customer portal are essential. If your ERP system has those features built-in and easily integrated, even better.

 

5 Must-Have Features in your Distribution ERP Software

Let’s take a minute and focus on what we already know; an ERP solution provides a centralized solution to streamline and regulate daily business processes and operations. Additionally, we also know that distribution centers require additional tools and features to maintain growth. So, what are the must-have features that will help you achieve all this and thrive in your complex industry? We’ve given you an overview of the top six features below.

 

Forecasting & Demand Planning

As a distributor in today’s market, it’s essential meet the current and anticipated demand of your inventory. However, manually tracking inventory with outdated spreadsheets leaves too much room for human error. This process likely won’t be a long-term solution, because not only is the data often inaccurate—it may not be current. An ERP with demand planning is a necessity, as it helps you meet customer demand, minimize excess inventory, and avoid supply chain disruptions.

Distribution ERP software with demand planning and forecasting tools integrates both historical sales data and sales forecasts to help you optimize purchasing decisions. With capabilities like supply plans and automated purchase and supply orders, this tool streamlines the inventory management process. Because your distribution ERP has synchronized all functions of sales, supply, and purchasing, you get precise forecasting. You can quickly react to market changes, improve overall inventory management, and increase customer service levels.

 

Warehouse Management

As you already know, the warehouse is the core of your supply chain. With the complexity of today’s supply chain and customer expectations growing higher than ever, it’s essential to stay competitive in the new fulfillment economy. With warehouse management capabilities built into your ERP, you can support even the most complicated, multichannel fulfillment processes.

A distribution ERP can help you optimize warehouse processes and analyze the best use of floor space based on characteristics you set.

Your team won’t waste time trying to locate products because with RFID scanning capabilities, they’ll always know where everything is. You’ll know current inventory levels at a glance and can rely on those counts being accurate. These automated processes boost pick, pack and ship accuracy and reduce mis-picks. Using lot, batch, and serial numbers, you track products from incoming orders to outgoing shipments.

 

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) & Retailer Compliance

EDI is the transfer of business data between business partners without the need for human intervention. As we already know, manual transactions are vulnerable to human error. With EDI, all documents and information are created and transferred electronically, this includes purchase orders, invoices, shipping invoices and manifests, customs documents, and more.

Many retailers have a vigorous list of compliance requirements; whether it’s for every EDI document, shipping labels or on-time, in-full shipments, there is a lot to manage. And often, businesses will get hit with fines or late fees when they don’t meet retailer compliance requirements. A distribution ERP helps manage all of these guidelines and specifications to ensure compliance—helping reduce fines and safeguard relationships.

 

Sales Order Management

With sales order management every step of the sales process is automated, from receipt, to approval, fulfillment, and tracking. You’ll have easy, real-time access to customer interactions, order status, detailed inventory, and shipment information to create specific rules on how your business receives, fulfills and delivers orders. What’s more, you get real-time cost information, which means that your financial team knows the impact on gross profit as sales come in.

For distributors like you, the sales process possesses many challenges. But industry-specific distribution ERP software allows you to conquer them with ease; automated workflows and real-time monitoring across inventory, you get accurate quotes and billing errors are eliminated. With the touch of a button, you can obtain approvals and determine the best fulfillment options. And with self-service customer portals, your clients feel in control of their order as they can track progress and make changes at any time. Therefore, you maintain better profitability and improve customer satisfaction.

 

Business Intelligence

If an ERP is a screwdriver, keeping the nuts and bolts of your business intact, business intelligence, or BI, is a massive power drill. While an ERP helps keep daily business processes running efficiently, BI goes one step further. It gives your company strategic understandings into performance metrics and helps uncover trends. Apply these trend analyses to map out actionable strategies and watch your business grow.

When making business decisions, you need accurate data. The immense amount of data involved in the daily operations of your distribution warehouse is jaw-dropping.  You need a way to organize, store and analyze this information. Distribution ERP software with BI converges everything, and helps you convert mountains of data into clear insights.

With the capabilities of BI, you can clearly see trends and patterns, anticipate market shifts, and proactively modify your strategies. For example, perhaps your warehouse struggles with timely deliveries. You know this by getting reports through your ERP; however, with BI integration, the warehouse manager can identify the issue almost instantly and make the necessary changes to fix the problem.

 

Your Next Steps to Industry-Specific Distribution Software

An industry-specific ERP offers your distribution warehouse a variety of insightful benefits but be sure to look for one with the necessary features to improve operations and business processes.

In order to thrive in today’s competitive marketplace, you need to be agile and have the best technology solutions.  We get it—an ERP is a huge investment; but it is the tool you need to boost efficiency and agility and enhance customer service at every level.

When you team up with ACC Software Solution’s premier team of consultants, you’ll receive a team of experts committed to following ERP best practices, from selection to end user training.

Find out why distribution centers across the United States have come to us for over 25 years to execute their software projects—contact ACC Software Solutions today!

 


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